By Keqiao Cheng, EDITOR
Chongqing - More and more local people came to the Huguang Guild Hall (Huguang Huiguan) during the Spring Festival. They visited here for the special experience of an intangible cultural heritage item: the sacrificial and blessing ceremony to Yu the Great.
They worshipped Yu to pray for happiness and peace in the coming year. Additionally, they also visited the Temple Fair of Yu. It is a unique experience in this Chinese New Year.
At 11:00 on February 9, with drums and bells ringing, the sacrificial and blessing ceremony to Yu started. The ceremony marshal in Hanfu hosted it. Meanwhile, under the guidance of the main priest, a series of activities began successively. They included washing hands, whisking dust, presenting flowers, food, wine and fruits, and worshipping.
They also comprised reading praying articles, drinking sacrificial wine and eating sacrificial meat, and praying with incense sticks. Before and after the ceremony, there were also special activities of lion dance and welcoming of Caishen (God of Wealth). These activities attracted the tourists so much that they all took photos with their mobile phones and cameras.
Since the reign of Kangxi Emperor (1661 A.D.-1722 A.D.) in the Qing Dynasty, immigrants and their descendants gathered here every year. Also, immigrating from provinces like Hubei, Hunan, and Guangdong, they came to the Palace of Yu in memory of him. Offering sacrifices to the ancestors and praying for peace gradually became traditional folk activities in this mass gathering. With a long history and extensive influence, the ceremony was listed as an intangible cultural heritage item of Chongqing in 2014.
According to the introduction from Huguang Guild Hall, there were many stories about Yu in the history of Chongqing. Three hundred years ago, immigrants from provinces including Hubei, Hunan, and Guangdong arrived in Chongqing. At the same time, they built the hall as a historical and cultural site for comforting the homesickness and worshipping their ancestors. They inherited the sacrificial activities to Yu in the hall, which became an important carrier of cultural inheritance.
The sacrificial and blessing ceremony this year completely followed the historical procedures and regulations of offering sacrifices to Yu. It helped tourists learn more about offering sacrifices to Yu and carrying out traditional etiquette in a ritualized and experience-oriented way. Moreover, the ceremony aimed to praise Yu’s spirit of being responsible, selfless, and hardworking.
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